Japanese Acupuncture

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Japanese Acupuncture 2018-01-19T11:27:40+00:00

Japanese Acupuncture:-

Acupuncture is one of the oldest forms of medicine and healing in the world. It has been around for thousands of years, and originated in China.Chinese medicine, and more specifically acupuncture, made its way to Japan through Korea in the 6th century, and has been practiced there since then for over 14 centuries. For the most part, when the average modern American thinks of acupuncture, they automatically lump China in with it.However, Japan has practiced this medicine for 14 centuries, and over time a difference in practices and techniques was developed, making for a very different art and philosophy towards acupuncture.This article aims to highlight the 7 primary differences in practice between Chinese acupuncture and Japanese Acupuncture.

The 7 differences are as follows:-

The Size of the Needles – Chinese acupuncture and Japanese acupuncture differs in the size of the needles used on patients. Japanese needles tend to be a smaller gauge, while also typically being sharper than Chinese needles. Many say that this is the reason for a gentler, more superficial needling with less pain on the patient. Chinese needles are bit of a wider gauge, and they promote more of an aggressive needling.

Depth of Insertion:–

The gauges of the needles go hand in hand with the depth of insertion required. Japanese needling is extremely gentle and superficial (meaning only focused on the surface and maybe slightly under the surface of the skin), whereas Chinese needling fosters more depth of insertion. Some patients feel this to be too painful, while others feel that this treatment benefits them more, as they can sense the movement of qi through the body more effectively.

Herbs in Conjunction With Treatment:-

A large difference between the two practices lies in the Chinese’ use of herbs in conjunction with acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and herbs are an essential aspect of TCM as a whole. Japanese practitioners often do not tend to use herbs in conjunction with treatment, but they do refer their patients to other practitioners that are knowledgeable on the subject. The use of herbs is much more integrated in Chinese treatment, as opposed to Japanese treatment.

Touch as a Means of Pre-Treatment:-

Japanese acupuncture places a lot of emphasis on the use of palpation (touch) before needle treatment. These practitioners rely on abdominal palpation to judge the insertion point of the needle. This practice roots from the many blind acupuncturists of Ancient Japan, and it goes hand in hand with the gentle needling.

Insertion Methods:-

The Chinese and Japanese practices differ greatly in their needling technique. Now a standard in the acupuncture field, guiding tubes for needles were not part of the Ancient Chinese traditions, and in fact were developed in Japan in the 1970’s when disposable needles became available. Further, Chinese acupuncture tends to manipulate the needle when inserted into the body much more than Japanese acupuncture.

Stronger Qi Sensation:-

Chinese acupuncture gives patients a much more distinct feeling of qi moving through specific points in their body, as practitioners of this discipline tend to, as stated above, rotate and shift the needle much more than Japanese practitioners. Further, the increased depth of the needle gives more distinct sensations.


Furthing the theme of “gentle” and “relaxing”, Japanese acupuncturists almost always incorporation the technique of moxibustion. This involves burning cones of Moxa (derived from mugwort plant) over the patient’s skin before needling. This warming sensation adds to the soothing nature of Japanese acupuncture.

Benefits of Japanese Acupuncture:-

Like its Chinese counterparts, Japanese acupuncture is praised for its ability to open energy channels within the body, relieve tension and cure other ailments. In contrast, Japanese acupuncture techniques are often gentler and more subtle than the techniques used in China.Japanese acupuncture treatments have been known to assist in helping with a range of complaints, including aggravated stress (fatigue, insomnia, anxiety, depression), localized pain (headache, knee pain, back pain), gastric problems (nausea, acid reflux, gastritis), trauma (sprains, strains, bruises) and even infertility. Traditional Japanese acupuncture is particularly suited to those who are uncomfortable with strong needle stimulus or are fatigued or otherwise weakened. It is well suited for pediatric treatments and can be done without the use of needles.

A Tokyo study has reported positive effects of Japanese acupuncture on a number of regular ailments, including the common cold. “A significantly positive effect of acupuncture was demonstrated in the summed questionnaire data…needling on the neck using the Japanese fine needle manipulating technique was shown to be effective and safe. The use of acupuncture for symptoms of the common cold should be considered.” Doctors determined the preventive and curative effects of manual acupuncture on the systems of the common cold.

The Anglo-Dutch Institute of Oriental Medicine discovered similar findings, concluding the benefits of Japanese acupuncture on healing neck pain and strain. “Relevant acupuncture with heat contributes to modest pain reduction in persons with myofascial neck pain.” Results proved Japanese acupuncture’s ability to help cure localized pain and release overall discomfort.

Tracing its roots to early seventh-century Chinese texts, Japanese acupuncture has been making ground since the 1920s. Japanese practitioners discussed how parts of the ancient text Nan Jing[c. 250 A.D.] may be applied to clinical practice. These physicians focused on point selection, point location and needle technique, blossoming the beneficial treatments underlying meridian therapy. Today, Japanese acupuncture is beginning to gain as much publicity and credit as Chinese acupuncture.